Etymology
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pearl (n.)

"nacreous mass formed in the shell of a bivalve mollusk as a result of irritation caused by some foreign body," early 14c., perle (mid-13c. as a surname), from Old French perle (13c.) and directly from Medieval Latin perla (mid-13c.), which is of unknown origin. Perhaps from Vulgar Latin *pernula, diminutive of Latin perna, which in Sicily meant "pearl," earlier "sea-mussel," literally "ham, haunch, gammon," so called for the shape of the mollusk shells.

Other theories connect it with the root of pear, also somehow based on shape, or Latin pilula "globule," with dissimilation. The usual Latin word for "pearl" was margarita (see margarite).

Used from 14c. of anything valuable or of the finest kind; from mid-15c. of something small, round, and glistening white. For pearls before swine, see swine. Pearl Harbor translates Hawaiian Wai Momi, literally "pearl waters," so named for the pearl oysters found there; transferred sense of "effective sudden attack" is attested from 1942 (in reference to Dec. 7, 1941).

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millet (n.)

type of cereal grain known from antiquity and cultivated in warm regions, early 15c. (late 14c. as mile), from Old French millet, millot, diminutive of mil "millet," from Latin milium "millet," from PIE root *mele- "to crush, grind." Cognate with Greek meline, Lithuanian malnos (plural) "millet."

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pearl (v.)

late 14c., "to adorn with pearls," from pearl (n.). From 1590s as "to take a rounded form" (intrans.); from c. 1600 as "to make into a form, or cause to assume the form and appearance, of a pearl" (trans.). Related: Pearled; pearling.

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mother-of-pearl (n.)

"nacreous inner layer of the shell of various bivalve mollusks," c. 1500, translating Medieval Latin mater perlarum, with the first element perhaps connected in popular imagination with obsolete mother (n.2) "dregs." Compare Italian madreperla, French mère-perle, Dutch parelmoer, German Perlmutter, Danish perlemor. It is the stuff of pearls but in a layer instead of a mass.

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pearly (adj.)

mid-15c., perli, "resembling a pearl or mother-of-pearl," from pearl + -y (2). Related: Pearliness. The pearly gates of Heaven (or the New Jerusalem) are attested by 1708, from Revelation xxi.21.

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panic (n.2)

type of grass, mid-15c., panik, from Old French panic "Italian millet," from Latin panicum "panic grass, kind of millet," from panus "ear of millet, a swelling," from PIE root *pa- "to feed."

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nacre (n.)

1590s, "type of shellfish that yields mother-of-pearl," from French nacre (Old French nacaire, 14c.), from Italian naccaro (now nacchera), possibly from Arabic naqur "hunting horn" (from nakara "to hollow out"), in reference to the shape of the mollusk shell. Meaning "mother-of-pearl" is from 1718. The French adjectival form nacré was applied in English to decorative objects iridescent like mother of pearl (1895).

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margaric (adj.)

"pertaining to or resembling pearl," 1819 (in margaric acid), from French margarique (Chevreul), from Greek margaron, a parallel form to margaritēs "pearl" (see Margaret) + -ic. Obsolete in science but surviving in commercial derivatives.

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Margery 
fem. proper name, from Old French Margerie, related to Late Latin margarita "pearl" (see Margaret).
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panocha (n.)

also panoche, "coarse grade of sugar made in Mexico," 1847, from American Spanish panocha "brown sugar," perhaps ultimately from Latin panucula "tuft," diminutive of panus "tuft, swelling; ear of millet," from PIE root *pa- "to feed."

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